Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Why War is Never a Good Idea

Why War is Never a Good Idea

Alice Walker
Illustrator:  Stephano Vitale 
Picture Book
For ages 5 and up
HarperCollins, 1980   ISBN: 978-0060753856

Though War can speak all the world's languages, and though it can it can see all kinds of things, it cannot hear the sound of frogs singing, nor can it see a mother nursing her baby. It is blind and deaf to things of beauty things which it destroys with impunity.

Nor has War learned from the past. "It has not /Become wise" even though it is very old. It destroys things of beauty from the past, not registering that these artifacts are irreplaceable. Similarly War blankets wild places of beauty with a ""powder/That/Kills.""

As if this is not bad enough War "eats everything/In its path" and sometimes it even damages what lies beneath the places it eats. It poisons the soil and the water.

War is so pervasive that if you are not careful you too might become a part of it. Is that what you want?

In this extraordinary book Alice Walker personifies War, giving it a form which is mindless, cruel, destructive, and insidious. Is a thing which is greedy and which cannot see the beauty in nature, human life, or artifacts from the past. To compliment these word based images the illustrator presents War as an ugliness which has no redeeming features. It is to be feared and to be dreaded.

All too often books give war an admirable quality. Not here. Children will see War as it is, and they will be warned that they too can become a part of it if they are not careful. They have to seek the path of peace, tolerance, justice, and love and then war will not be able to plant a seed in their hearts.

This is a title which every child, and indeed every adult, should read.